‘Descendant’: Netflix, Obama’s Higher Ground Company to Present Sundance Documentary!!

Netflix has acquired the worldwide rights to Participant’s documentary film Descendant. Directed by Margaret Brown, the film premiered in the U.S. Documentary Competition at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival, and won the Special Jury Award: Creative Vision. The streamer will present the film alongside President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama’s production company, Higher Ground.

Descendant follows members of a small community in Alabama called Africatown. They are the descendants of the people transported illegally as human cargo on the last known slave ship from Africa to America, the Clotilda. Descendant explores the community’s response to the discovery of Clotilda’s existence, described as a “centuries-old open secret,” and how they “grapple with their heritage while claiming the power to shape their own destinies.”

Brown said that she has been “humbled and honored” to have spent four years with the residents of Africatown, and expressed excitement at the acquisition, which she hopes will help communicate the story with the whole world. In her own words:

“I have been humbled and honored to spend four years with the residents of Africatown as they seek justice and reconciliation for what happened in 1860, and what is still happening today. I am excited that through Netflix and Higher Ground’s global reach, audiences around the world will learn this powerful history.”

Higher Ground’s first release, the documentary American Factory—also on Netflix—won the 2019 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. They have two more projects in development at Netflix, including Blackout, a film and TV event adapted from six different love stories, and an untitled comedy series from Regina Hicks.

Higher Ground co-produces alongside Two One Five Entertainment, the company founded by members of The Roots, Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson and Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter. Brown serves as producer alongside Kyle Martin and Essie Chambers. Questlove and Black Thought exec-produce alongside Participant’s Jeff Skoll and Diane Weyermann; Kate Hurwitz; Shawn Gee and Zarah Zohlman.

The Grand Jury Prize for Best Documentary Feature at this year’s Sundance Film Festival went to The Exiles, in which “documentarian Christine Choy tracks down three exiled dissidents from the Tiananmen Square massacre, in order to find closure on an abandoned film she began shooting with Renee Tajima-Peña in 1989.”

You can read the official synopsis of Descendant here:

Descendant follows members of Africatown, a small community in Alabama, as they share their personal stories and community history as descendants of the Clotilda, the last known slave ship to illegally transport human beings as cargo from Africa to America. The ship’s existence, a centuries-old open secret, is confirmed by a team of marine archeologists. The film explores implications of the Clotilda’s discovery for the descendants, who grapple with their heritage while claiming the power to shape their own destinies.


via Collider

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